A star turn by halfback Willie Wright against West Coast saw South Canterbury retain their lead in the Heartland Championship.
Wright scored a hat trick of tries and didn’t miss a shot at goal, landing seven straight, in their 45-38 win.
His personal haul of 30 points in a Heartland game was also a record for South Canterbury.
Inform wing Kalavini Leatigaga also grabbed two tries to take his tally to seven for the season, just one behind Wanganui’s Timocia Seruwalu, and equal with Mid Canterbury’s Maleli Sau.
It was somewhat of a rollercoaster ride in Greymouth with West Coast in front at halftime, before South Canterbury shot to the lead and then had to hang on at the death.
For West Coast locks Joshua Manning and Isei Lewaqi had strong games and dominated the lineouts.
Fullback Nick Cumming also impressed in general play and with the boot, as he never missed a shot either, while first five Tom Reekie looks a player who could attain higher honours.
The result means South Canterbury have a four point buffer over Buller on the table but Horowhenua Kapiti are still to play so are likely to steal back second spot.
King Country felt Wanganui’s wrath after the defending champions had unusually dropped their previous two games.
Wanganui steeped up a gear to thrash the Rams 80-3, running in 13 tries, with Cameron Crowley, Timoci Serwalu, Cody Hemi and Jona Sawailau all grabbing a brace each.
King Country sole points came from a Kieron Rollinson penalty and they sit second bottom on the table, in danger of missing the Lochore Cup, for the fifth to eighth placed teams.
Mid Canterbury made their trip to Paeroa worthwhile with a 25-17 win over Thames Valley.
The Hammers however missed a four try bonus point which could haunt them later on, such is the closeness of the championship.
Buller also secured an away win but theirs was far more comfortable getting past wooden spooners East Coast 54-17 in Ruatoria.
Buller’s midfield of Petaia Saukuru and Mike Lealavaa were superb while blindside Blair McIlroy got through heap of tackles in defence.
In Oamaru North Otago climbed back into top four contention with a 34-12 win over Poverty Bay.
The Old Golds grabbed the bonus point with tries to Petelo Pouhila, Matthew Vocea, Aaron Martin and Junior Fakatoufifita , while Alex Bradley go the Bay’s only try.
North Otago coach Nigel Walsh was impressed with his team’s efforts.
“It certainly keeps us in the fight.”
For North Otago halfback Robbie Smith had a very good game as did Antini Brown outside him.
Up front props Meli Kolinisay and Ralph Darling impressed.
Veteran midfielder Lemi Masoe played well as usual, in what was his 100th game for North Otago.
It was also an emotional moment for Poverty Bay prop Sione Ngatu, who clocked up his 150th game for Poverty Bay.
Ngatu started playing in 2003 and the 36-year-old put in a ‘man of the match’ performance for his side.
No.8 Siosiua Moala also had a strong game while left wing Andrew Tauatevalu also caught the eye.
Horowhenua Kapiti took on eleventh placed Wairarapa Bush at Westpac Stadium in Wellington, on Sunday, as a curtain-raiser to the Wellington- Otago Mitre 10 Cup game.
Horowhenua were too classy running out comfortable 38-12 victors, thanks to a brace of tries from hooker Nathan Kendrick and number 8 Tyson Maki.
The red-white-and-blue raced out to a 25-0 early in the second half before Wairarapa Bush struck back with two quick tries.
Cyrus Baker, captain Eddie Cranston and first five Tim Priest were the best for the disappointing Bush side.
Horowhenua were well led by the strong running Maki, allround Kendrick, Aaron Lahmert and speedy outside back Willie Paia’aua, while James So’oialo was classy in midfield.
The win lifted Horowhenua to second, two points behind South Canterbury.
At a glance:
Buller 54 (Andrew Stephens 2, Michael Lealava’a 2, Iliesa Ravudra 2, James Lash, Kahu Parata try, Lash 7 con)
East Coast 17 HT: 35-7
North Otago 34 (Petelo Pouhila, Matthew Vocea, Aaron Martin, Junior Fakatoufifita try; Josh Buckham 4 con, pen; Lemi Masoe pen)
Poverty Bay 12 (Everard Reid, Ethine Reeves tries; Andrew Tauatevalu con) HT: 24-0
South Canterbury 45 ( Willie Wright 3, Kalavini Leatigaga 2, Vatiliai Tora try; Wright 6 con, pen)
West Coast 38 (Peter Te Rakau, Josh Manning, Daniel Davis, Regan Stanton, Logan Heath try; Nic Cumming 5 con, pen) HT: 21-24
Mid Canterbury 25 (Jarred Percival, Willie McGoon, Christian Vainerere try; Percival 2 con, 2 pen)
Thames Valley 16 (Alex Bradley try; Chris Doak con, 3 pen) HT: 9-15
Wanganui 80 (Cameron Crowley 2, Timoci Seruwalu 2, Cody Hemi 2, Jona Sawailau 2, Angus Middleton, Lindsay Horrocks, Cole Baldwin, Jamie Hughes, Nick Harding try; Craig Clare 4 con, pen; Harding 2 con)
King Country 3 (Kieron Rollinson pen)
Horowhenua Kapiti 38 (Nathan Kendrick 2, Tyson Maki 2, Willia Paia’aua tries; James So’oialo 3 pen, 2 con)
Wairarapa Bush 12: (Chris Raymond, Cyrus Baker tries; Tim Priest con) HT: 18-0